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New Zealand International Film Festival

July to November NZ wide | TVNZ

The Red Shoes: Film Festival

The Red Shoes

UK 1948, 133m
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

"'Why do you want to dance?' 'Why do you want to live?' Anton Walbrook's Lermontov is not interested when red-tressed Moira Shearer desperately wants to join his troupe - but then he sees her dance. And then the Red Shoes ballet, based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale of shoes that dance the wearer to death, will be her triumph. But when she finds romance with composer Marius Goring, it's the eternal battle between Life and Art. Perhaps the greatest triumph of triply-credited (producers, writers, directors) 'The Archers' - aka Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger - following their successive smashes A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus, Powell agreed to film Pressburger's decade-old script if they could create an original ballet from scratch and cast an actual ballerina in the lead - and then their discovery, 21-year-old non-actress Shearer, took almost a year to make up her mind.

With Léonide Massine (actual Ballets Russes choreographer and Nijinsky's successor as chief soloist) as the troupe's maître de ballet, and also dancing the role of The Shoemaker; and Sir-to-be Robert Helpmann choreographing everyone else, the 17-minute ballet is a tour de force, its Oscar-winning score produced in record time by Brian Easdale when a predecessor's attempt was rejected in toto. Shoes would run 110 straight weeks in New York alone; but in recent years, while relatively decent prints have been in circulation, none have come close to the brilliance of Jack Cardiff's legendary original Technicolor photography. UCLA's Robert Gitt and team have gone back to the damaged original nitrate materials, including the still-extant three-strip camera negs; his digital restoration led to a negative used to strike this breathtaking new 35mm print." - Film Forum